I polished off Mass Effect on Sunday after forty something hours of gameplay. I'm pretty sure that I did everything in the game - I managed to get the Completionist achievement - but it didn't seem like there was that much to do. Maybe I'm just used to other RPGs that are pretty much time sinks *cough* Oblivion *cough*. I guess I was expecting something more...well more...
Mass Effect is an impressive game from character creation all the way to the cliffhanger ending. I enjoyed the hours of dialogue and depths of the Codex. I enjoyed driving the Mako across planetscapes and using it the run over Geth. There were a few moments where I worried about the characters and the events unfolding around them. Hard decisions were made and consequences were felt. The Universe was saved but was the cost worth it? The storyline is pretty straight forward if you're familiar with the Space Opera genre: bad guys are up to good, grim hero and companions are out to right wrongs and kick ass, experimental space ship with smart ass pilot - very ably voiced by Seth Green, pissed off alien allies, a seriously daunting foe, and a touch of romance.
I don't really have any problems with Mass Effect. I would recommend it to a friend or neighbour. A lot of the problems reviews had - slow elevators, load times, cumbersome inventory screens, driving the Mako, etc., etc. - didn't really bother me all that much. Personally I liked the elevators - they were an opportunity to have a stretch or go get a drink - plus there was dialogue between characters and on the Citadel there were news casts. So where is my vague sense of dissatisfaction coming from? The voice work of Jennifer Hale as the main character Commander Shepard was top notch, the story satisfying, the graphics great to look at, gameplay was perfectly reasonable, and yet I feel like I didn't get my fill. You ever been to a top notch restaurant and been blown away by the food but afterwards you realize that you're still hungry? That's the way I feel about Mass Effect.
Quite possibly the fact that I played Mass Effect very soon after I was playing KOTOR led to some disappointment. Where KOTOR allows for much more character control and influencing other characters and events Mass Effect just allows you to go in one direction or another. I also noticed that the other characters weren't terribly bothered by your actions. Where in KOTOR characters would make you guilty for being bad in Mass Effect they don't really care too much.
Sad to say the more I think about the game and what I liked and what I didn't like I and what I'm on the fence about the more I think, "Meh." If you're in the market for a RPG then I certainly recommend it - just don't expect the epic scope that some RPGs have - but if you're not an RPG fan I wouldn't bother.
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